News

Postponements: Critical Theory Events Spring 2020

Canceled | “Visiting Days” CT Welcome Event for Prospective Berkeley Ph.D. Students

The Program in Critical Theory regretfully will not be holding its previously scheduled welcome event. However, we remain eager to provide any information regarding Critical Theory at Berkeley that might prove useful to interested prospective graduate students.

For any prospective students who may find their way to campus individually, please contact Dan Blanton at cdblanton@berkeley.edu, who is available to meet with anyone wanting to learn more.

Those who will not be coming to campus are also encouraged to write either Dan Blanton or Robert Kaufman (robkaufman@berkeley.edu) for information on the Designated Emphasis and other related programs.

ANNOUNCING CRITICAL THEORY DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIP | APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 17

The Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship is awarded to Critical Theory Designated Emphasis (DE) graduate students with records of achievement and promising dissertation projects. The fellowship supports students writing their dissertations with fee remission and a stipend for a semester of support.

Applications for the 2020-2021 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship are due Friday, April 17, 2020, by 4pm. Eligible students must be enrolled in the Critical Theory DE and not receive significant (non-teaching) financial support from their home departments during the period of the award. Applicants must have completed their Qualifying Exams and have an approved dissertation prospectus.

Application Guidelines

Applicants must submit a cover letter, a 2-3 page abstract of the dissertation, an academic CV, and a letter from the dissertation adviser evaluating the project’s promise. Applicants planning on having the prospectus approved by the end of May 2021 should explain this in the application cover letter and should have the dissertation director, in their letter, evaluate the draft or proposed prospectus and the likelihood of its approval.

The committee will have the option of splitting the award in order to support more students. In view of this possibility, applicants should specify in the cover letter whether they would prefer to have the award in the fall or spring semester.

Completed applications, including all supporting materials, must be received by Friday, April 17, 2020, at 4 pm. 

Please submit applications to critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

Deadline for applications: April 17, 2020, by 4 pm
Award Announced: May 2020
Award Period: July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
Award Amount: Varies according to applicant pool and funds available.

The Dissertation Fellowship is open to Critical Theory students in UC Berkeley Departments including Anthropology, Boalt Law School, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Ethnic Studies, Film & Media, French, Gender & Women’s Studies, German, Geography, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric, School of Education, School of Public Health, Sociology, South & Southeast Asian Studies, Spanish & Portuguese, and Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

CRITICAL THEORY WORKING GROUP, Spring 2020

Theories of the Global South, Spring 2020

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce its 2020 working group for the spring semester, Theories of the Global South. The co-conveners for the bi-weekly meetings are Donna Honarpisheh (Comparative Literature) and Devin Choudhury (Rhetoric). The Working Group is co-sponsored by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and The Program in Critical Theory.

The Theories of the Global South working group aims to promote interdisciplinary inquiry into works of literature and film, critical theory, critical race studies, science and technology studies, and history produced in and with the Global South, with particular interest in texts that further understandings of decolonial methodologies and postcolonial ways of knowing. Each semester, the group will take on a series of pressing global questions—ethical, political, and aesthetic—and in doing so will draw from sources across disciplines, languages and regions. The group will examine the history of postcolonial theory, considering its root concerns of the limits of representation and knowledge production, critiques of the nation-state, and the transformation of life forms under colonial and postcolonial modernity. In this pursuit, we will also consider how the methods and questions of postcolonial theory have transformed in contemporary works, namely, how works of the Global South continue to grapple with the problems of state violence, global inequality, and environmental crises. In our method as well as our critical inquiries, we will reflect on varied imaginings of the world and the contemporary critiques and coalitions that emerge from these epistemological frameworks. In doing so, we will entangle ourselves in contemporary theory to explore and move towards a multi-epistemic world and a cosmo-political universe of co-existence and critical possibility.

The spring meetings will take place on the following dates:

January 30, February 12, February 27, March 12, April 2, and April 16.

For more information, please contact critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs Receives New Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

In December 2019, UC Berkeley received a four-and-a-half year, $1.8 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue the work of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP) in a second phase. Established in 2017 through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Consortium was conceived and has been co-directed during its first phase by Judith Butler (UC Berkeley) and Penelope Deutscher (Northwestern University). It has established an active network of nearly 500 programs, projects, centers, and institutes from almost all regions of the globe and 47 countries, which now constitutes the largest international network in the humanities located in the UC system. As the first grant comes to an end and the second begins in July 2020, Professors Natalia Brizuela (UC Berkeley) and Samera Esmeir (UC Berkeley) will become the new principal investigators.

Located in the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley, the grant will continue the interventions already underway with a new focus on connecting emergent creative and critical practices in politics and the arts throughout the Global South. The main parts of the grant include: (a) a cross-regional workshop series on debt, futurity, ecology and migration; (b) continuation of the book series Critical South with Polity Press; (c) a new South-South translation series in collaboration with Senegalese and Argentinian publishing houses, Jimsaan and Tinta Limón; (d) continuation of the journal Critical Times with Duke University Press; (e) a visiting scholars program and lecture series on the UC Berkeley campus; (f) fellowships for doctoral students and graduate researcher appointments at UC Berkeley; (g) and the expansion of the Consortium’s global network and online directory.

In the new grant, the emergent workshop series, the journal, and the book series in its expanded forms will reflect an even more nuanced understanding of how best to foster cross-regional collaboration and to disseminate those results in creative and effective ways. We seek to strengthen South-South collaboration and to continue to provide opportunities for critical theory to renew itself in light of a range of situated and experimental contributions from various regions of the world.

For more information, please visit the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP) website

DESIGNATED EMPHASIS OPEN HOUSE AND INFORMATION SESSION

Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 5:30-7 pm
340 Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley

Join the Program in Critical Theory’s faculty and students for a panel discussion and Q&A about the Designated Emphasis (DE) in Critical Theory. All UC Berkeley Ph.D. students interested in applying to the DE (due March 19) are invited to attend. Refreshments and light snacks will be provided.

The Program in Critical Theory’s DE enables graduate students already enrolled in UC Berkeley Ph.D. programs from across the social sciences, arts, and humanities to obtain certification of a Designated-Emphasis specialization in Critical Theory. Students admitted to the DE who complete its requirements (three core courses and two electives) will receive a parenthetical notation to that effect on their doctoral degrees. The DE offers graduate fellowships, hosts international scholars, and presents lectures, seminars, and other events for the wider campus community and local public. Serving nearly 100 graduate students from the humanities, social sciences, and arts at UC Berkeley, the DE in Critical Theory also maintains important collaborative relations with other critical theory institutes and programs nationally and internationally.

“Critical Theory” is often associated with the Frankfurt School, a group of intellectuals who, starting in the 1920s, developed critiques of modern capitalist society, fascism, and new global dispensations that followed in the aftermath of World War II; in doing so, the Frankfurt School established modes of social theory distinct from established forms of philosophy. But key modern concepts of critique had already emerged in various forms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the work of Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and others, and critique has assumed historically distinct modalities across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The DE in Critical Theory offers courses on the nineteenth-century notion of critique; on the Frankfurt School and other twentieth-century currents of critical theory and philosophy; and on contemporary forms and modes of critical theory, including critical race theory, postcolonialist theory, feminist critique, gender studies and queer theory, and the diverse approaches to critique arising with and after structuralism and poststructuralism. The DE emphasizes the centrality of theoretical critique in the examination of contemporary values, of the power relations that constrain and enable political, social, cultural, and economic life, and of the modes of justification that legitimate historical and cultural inquiry and sociopolitical analysis.

Applications to the DE in Critical Theory are due Thursday, March 19 by 4 pm. All students enrolled in Ph.D. programs at UC Berkeley who have not already taken the QE are eligible to apply. To learn more about the application process and access application forms, visit Academics.

Photo credit: Gisèle Freund, Walter Benjamin in the Bibliothèque Nationale, 1937

2020 Designated Emphasis (DE) Applications Due Thursday, March 19

The Program in Critical Theory’s DE enables graduate students already enrolled in UC Berkeley Ph.D. programs from across the social sciences, arts, humanities, and beyond to obtain certification of a Designated-Emphasis specialization in Critical Theory. Students admitted to the DE who complete its requirements (three core courses and two electives) will receive a parenthetical notation to that effect on their doctoral degrees. The program offers courses on the nineteenth-century notion of critique; on the Frankfurt School and other twentieth-century currents of critical theory and philosophy; and on contemporary forms and modes of critical theory, including critical race theory, postcolonialist theory, feminist critique, gender studies and queer theory, and the diverse approaches to critique arising with and after structuralism and poststructuralism.

Applications to the DE in Critical Theory are due Thursday, March 19 by 4 pm. All students enrolled in Ph.D. programs at UC Berkeley who have not already taken the QE are eligible to apply. To learn more about the application process and access application forms, visit the Academics page on our website.

CT Faculty Announce Spring 2020 Courses

CT faculty will be teaching twelve spring 2020 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Anthropology, Education, English, Ethnic Studies, Film, French, Rhetoric, and Spanish.

For more information on spring courses, full course descriptions, and the curricular requirements of the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, please visit our Courses page.

Spring 2020 Critical Theory Courses: CORE

  • Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit | Philosophy 290 005 (Critical Theory 200) | Andreja Novakovic
  • Critique of Capitalism, or Reading Marx Now | English 250 003 (Critical Theory 240) | Colleen Lye

Spring 2020 Critical Theory Courses: ELECTIVE (Critical Theory 290)

  • Wittgenstein and Anthropology | Anthropology 250X 005 | Charles Hirschkind
  • Technological Selves and Sociotechnical Systems | Anthropology 250X 004 | Sarah E. Vaughn
  • Proseminar: Sociocultural Critique of Education | Education 280B 001 | Zeus Leonardo
  • Comedy and Violence | English 203 003 | Catherine Flynn
  • History and Narrativity: Contemporary Theories and Methods | Ethnic Studies 201 001 | Raul Coronado, Jr.
  • Theorizing Film and Media | Film 200 001 | Damon Young
  • Traditions of Critical Thought—Literature and Anthropology | French 274 001 | Soraya Tlatli *Discussion in English, texts in French
  • Crisis and Entanglement in Science and Culture | Philosophy 290 004 | Alva Noë
  • Classical Rhetorical Theory and Practice | Rhetoric 200 001 | James Porter
  • Feminisms/Potentia/Life | Spanish 280 002 | Natalia Brizuela

Critical Theory Students Co-Edit New Book

In 2014-15, sponsored by the Critical Theory DE and the UC Humanities Research Institute, William Callison (Political Science, 2019) and Zachary Manfredi (Rhetoric) organized a highly successful year-long working group and conference on “Neoliberalism and Biopolitics.”  Their efforts have culminated in the publication of Mutant Neoliberalism: Market Rule and Political Ruptureavailable now.

Mutant Neoliberalism brings together leading scholars of neoliberalism—political theorists, historians, philosophers, anthropologists, and sociologists—to rethink transformations in market rule and their relation to ongoing political ruptures. The chapters show how years of neoliberal governance, policy, and depoliticization created the conditions for thriving reactionary forces, while also reflecting on whether recent trends will challenge, reconfigure, or extend neoliberalism’s reach. The contributors reconsider neoliberalism’s relationship with its assumed adversaries and map mutations in financialized capitalism and governance across time and space—from Europe and the United States to China and India. Taken together, the volume recasts the stakes of contemporary debate and reorients critique and resistance within a rapidly changing landscape.

Contributors include: Étienne Balibar, Sören Brandes, Wendy Brown, Melinda Cooper, Julia Elyachar, Michel Feher, Megan Moodie, Christopher Newfield, Dieter Plehwe, Lisa Rofel, Leslie Salzinger, Quinn Slobodian.

Congratulations to the Program’s Recent Graduates

The Program in Critical Theory’s Designated Emphasis has grown considerably since its inception in 2010. Now in the tenth year, the program’s current enrollment stands at 96 active students with over 60 affiliated faculty. To date, 54 UC Berkeley PhD’s have earned a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

Congratulations to the following twelve graduates since 2019:

Molly Borowitz (August 2019)
PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures
DE in Critical Theory
DE in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

William Callison (August 2019)
PhD in Political Science
DE in Critical Theory

Philip Gerard (August 2019)
PhD in Comparative Literature
DE in Critical Theory

Jordan Greenwald (August 2019)
PhD in Comparative Literature
DE in Critical Theory

Megan Hoetger (May 2019)
PhD in Performance Studies
DE in Critical Theory
DE in Film Studies

Matt Horton (August 2019)
PhD in Education
DE in Critical Theory

Basit Iqbal (December 2019)
PhD in Anthropology
DE in Critical Theory

Taylor Johnston (May 2019)
PhD in Comparative Literature
DE in Critical Theory

Tae Hyun Kim (August 2019)
PhD in Chinese Language
DE in Critical Theory

Stephen McIsaac (May 2019)
PhD in Medical Anthropology
DE in Critical Theory 

Katharine Wallerstein (December 2019)
PhD in Rhetoric
DE in Critical Theory

Zi-Qiao (Lawrence) Yang (August 2019)
PhD in Chinese Language
DE in Critical Theory
DE in Film Studies

Critical Theory Working Group, Fall 2019

Theories of the Global South, Fall 2019

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce its 2019 working group for the 2019-2020 academic year, Theories of the Global South.  The co-conveners for the bi-weekly meetings are Donna Honarpisheh (Comparative Literature) and Devin Choudhury (Rhetoric). The Working Group is co-sponsored by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and The Program in Critical Theory.

The Theories of the Global South working group aims to promote interdisciplinary inquiry into works of literature and film, critical theory, critical race studies, science and technology studies, and history produced in and with the Global South, with particular interest in texts that further understandings of decolonial methodologies and postcolonial ways of knowing. Each semester, the group will take on a series of pressing global questions—ethical, political, and aesthetic—and in doing so will draw from sources across disciplines, languages and regions. The group will examine the history of postcolonial theory, considering its root concerns of the limits of representation and knowledge production, critiques of the nation-state, and the transformation of life forms under colonial and postcolonial modernity. In this pursuit, we will also consider how the methods and questions of postcolonial theory have transformed in contemporary works, namely, how works of the Global South continue to grapple with the problems of state violence, global inequality, and environmental crises. In our method as well as our critical inquiries, we will reflect on varied imaginings of the world and the contemporary critiques and coalitions that emerge from these epistemological frameworks. In doing so, we will entangle ourselves in contemporary theory to explore and move towards a multi-epistemic world and a cosmo-political universe of co-existence and critical possibility.

The fall meetings will take place on the following dates:

September 10, October 8, October 22, November 8, and November 19.

For more information, please contact critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

Jacome, Rhadigan and Johnston Win Dissertation Awards

The Program in Critical Theory will support three Designated Emphasis students’ dissertation projects in 2019-2020. Veronica Jacome and Ryan Rhadigan will receive semester-long Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowships, while Taylor Johnston has won a Critical Theory Research Grant.

Support for this year’s awardees is generously provided by the Magistretti Graduate Fellowship Fund, through the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences, the Dean of Arts and Humanities, and the Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science.

Veronica Jacome, Energy and Resources Group

Veronica Jacome

Veronica Jacome is a human geographer and Ph.D. Candidate with the Energy and Resources Group (ERG). She studies energy development and environmental justice through the lens of resource geography and political economy. Her dissertation investigates the presumptions and precarity imbedded in electricity systems today by applying critical theory, social science research methods, and electric power systems monitoring. Prior to joining ERG, Veronica served as the Director of Development for Imagine Science and Films, and taught A-level physics in Tanzania.

Chateaubriand Fellow, Art Rosenfeld Award, NSF Graduate Fellow, Foreign Language Academic Scholarship

Ryan Rhadigan, Rhetoric

Ryan Rhadigan

Ryan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Rhetoric with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. He received an MA in American Indian Studies from UCLA. In 2017-2019 he was a graduate fellow at the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. Ryan’s research combines methods from Native American and Indigenous studies, science and technology studies, and critical theory, in order to explore how archival technics shape Indigenous communities’ collective efforts to transform and democratize scientific practices. His dissertation project, “Salvage Constellations: The Archival Logics of Dispossession and Indigenous Recollection” investigates how Indigenous people in northern California are represented in ethnological archives, and how such archival entanglements work to consolidate, displace, and transduce present acts of cultural knowledge production and political exchange. 

 

Taylor Johnston, Comparative Literature

Taylor Johnston

Taylor Johnston is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in English at UC Berkeley, where she works on postmodern and contemporary American fiction, the African-American novel, literary realism, and critical whiteness studies. Her recent work appears in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (2017) and is forthcoming in Arizona Quarterly (2019). Her dissertation project, “Postmodern Realism and That Class Which is Not One”, explores the social and epistemological significance of realist description in white lower-middle-class fiction of the American seventies and eighties.

In the Department of Comparative Literature, she has taught nine courses on American and European literature and film, including two interdisciplinary Mellon-funded courses on the intersections of literature and live performance, a collaboration with Cal Performances.

Originally from San Diego, she received a B.A. in English and American Literature (2007) and an M.A. in Italian Studies (2010) from Middlebury College. Before beginning her graduate studies at Berkeley, she taught English at the Luca Pacioli Technical Institute in Lombardy (2007-8) and Italian at “La Scuola” International School, San Francisco (2008-12), as part of their early childhood education program.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEW DESIGNATED EMPHASIS STUDENTS

The Program in Critical Theory is delighted to welcome twenty-one new students to the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. The new cohort includes graduate students from ten departments in the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. These new admits bring the total number of Critical Theory DE students to approximately 125 (the largest such program at Berkeley).

  • Alejandra Rotondo, Anthropology
  • Alli Appelbaum, City and Regional Planning
  • Caroline Durlacher, German
  • Catherine Sulpizio, English
  • David Lau, Rhetoric
  • Gustavo Capela, Anthropology
  • John James, English
  • Joseph Serrano, English
  • Joshua Gregory, Social Welfare
  • Kyra Sutton, Rhetoric
  • Lindsay Choi, English
  • Mariagrazia De Luca, Italian Studies
  • Mehak Khan, English
  • Michele D’Aurizio, History of Art
  • Patrick Delehanty, English
  • Pê Feijó, Rhetoric
  • Robert Stahl, Anthropology
  • Sarah Hastings-Rudolph, French
  • Scott Cowan, Philosophy
  • Tulasi Johnson, History
  • Yael Plitmann, Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Congratulations, all!

CT Faculty Announce Fall 2019 Courses

CT faculty will be teaching seven Fall 2019 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, Film, French, German, Education, and Spanish & Portuguese.

For more information on fall courses and the curricular requirements of the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, please visit our Courses page.

Fall 2019 Critical Theory Courses: CORE

  • Frankfurt School, New York School: Critical Aesthetics & Modern Poetry | Comparative Literature | Robert Kaufman
  • Freud and Lacan | Film | Mary Ann Doane
  • Critical Ethnic Studies without Guarantees: Thinking with Stuart Hall | Ethnic Studies | Keith Feldman

Fall 2019 Critical Theory Courses: ELECTIVE

  • Post-War Materialisms and the Concrete | Spanish & Portuguese | Nathaniel Wolfson
  • Image and Power | German | Tony Kaes
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature – The Nineteenth Century and ways of reading: Literature, social history, hermenueutics | French | Michael Lucey
  • Proseminar: Sociocultural Critique of Education | Education | Zeus Leonardo
  • Arts of the Self | French | Damon Young
  • Law and History Foundation Seminar | Law | Christopher Tomlins
  • Ruins of History | Rhetoric | Samera Esmeir, Stefan-Ludwig Hoffman

ANNOUNCING CRITICAL THEORY DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIP | APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 12

The Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship is awarded to Critical Theory Designated Emphasis (DE) graduate students with records of achievement and promising dissertation projects. The fellowships support students writing their dissertations, providing full fee remission (where required) and a full stipend, usually for a semester.

Applications for the 2019-2020 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship are due Friday, April 12, 2019, by 4 pm. Eligible students must be enrolled in the Critical Theory DE and not receive significant (non-teaching) financial support from their home departments during the period of the award. Applicants must have completed their Qualifying Exams and have an approved dissertation prospectus.

Application Guidelines

Applicants must submit a cover letter, a 2-3 page abstract of the dissertation, an academic CV, and a letter from the dissertation adviser evaluating the project’s promise. Applicants planning on having the prospectus approved by the end of May 2017 should explain this in the application cover letter and should have the dissertation director, in his or her letter, evaluate the draft or proposed prospectus and the likelihood of its approval.

The committee will have the option of splitting the award in order to support more students.  In view of this possibility, applicants should specify in the cover letter whether they would prefer to have the award in the fall or spring semester.

Completed applications, including all supporting materials, must be received by Friday, April 12, 2019, at 4 pm.

Please submit applications to critical_theory@berkeley.edu.

Deadline for applications: April 12, 2019, by 4 pm
Award Announced: May 2019
Award Period: July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
Award Amount: Varies according to applicant pool and funds available.

The Dissertation Fellowship is open to Critical Theory students in UC Berkeley Departments including Anthropology, Boalt Law School, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Ethnic Studies, Film & Media, French, Gender & Women’s Studies, German, Geography, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric, School of Education, School of Public Health, Sociology, South & Southeast Asian Studies, Spanish & Portuguese, and Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.